Bloemfontein - For some people there is nothing more enjoyable than soaking in hot spring water and chatting to others about how this or that spring cured their aches and pains.
It is through encounters like this that we learn about the most obscure curative places.
Badfontein Guest Farm, on the banks of the Orange River and west of Aliwal North, has its feet firmly in the Free State. It is one of the favourite haunts of friends of mine from the UK. If the English like it, it must have something going for it, so off we headed years ago and have returned several times.
It is an alternative to the much larger spa at Aliwal North, which many claim is no longer to their liking.
To get there, you travel about 16km on the road towards Bethulie, then turn away on a farm road. This is typical southern Free State terrain with vast open spaces.
While many hot springs are positively bubbling with people, Badfontein has an air of solitude. For those who enjoy isolation, the cottage alongside the hot spring is ideal. Here you can feel all alone in the world, but if that sounds a bit lonely, you can stay in the garden of the main house in a comfortable, large, stone bungalow.
A reed bed screens one side of the hot spring. It is easy to imagine Voortrekkers of old might have taken a break from the long trek to soak their aching bones and tired feet in just such a spot.
The pool is tiny, more suited to floating than swimming, and you will probably have the place to yourself during the week. It’s also perfect for moonlit swims on a sultry night (shed the bathing costume and experience the silky waters on your body).
The accommodation options are a one- or a two-bedroomed self-catering cottage, fully equipped, including TV and microwave. If you can’t bear to leave Fido at home, pets are permitted by request.
There is also a rustic campsite, with hot water and electric points, but, to my mind, the cottages are preferable. If you are staying in the garden cottage near the main house you can walk across the veld to the hot spring, or drive there.
If night life and hedonistic accommodation are a prerequisite, Badfontein is not for you. If you like outdoor activities such as fishing, hiking, lingering sunsets or early sunrises and experiencing the vast and lonely veld in between dips in the pool, you’ll enjoy a few laid-back days here.
* For more info, call 051 633 2263, 083 430 6166 or e-mail: [email protected]
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